Tottenham Hotspur: 5 Memorable Moments of the Martin Jol Era
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Jol's departure was a bitter ending to what had on the whole been three of Spurs' most positive years in the Premier League era.
The assistant manager to Jacques Santini, Jol was appointed his replacement after the Frenchman resigned after a few short months in charge. It was an emotional time in the club's recent history with the passing of legendary manager Bill Nicholson coming shortly before Jol took over.
Far from being eased into things, Jol's first game in charge was a ridiculous and goal-stuffed 5-4 defeat to Arsenal in the north London derby.
Yet, the crazy nature of the derby was something of a cathartic experience which freed up the inhibitions of a side that had looked stale under Santini. Within weeks, an eight-game unbeaten run in the Premier League set Spurs up for its first genuine crack at a European place in years—an effort that ultimately fell short by a few points (Bolo Zenden dived to win a free-kick that saw rivals for a spot; Middlesbrough win the pivotal penultimate game 1-0).
But for the first in a while, Tottenham had some reasons to be cheerful—a mood that carried forth into the following two seasons as the club achieved two consecutive fifth-place finishes and enjoyed a memorable return to European competition.
Jol was undoubtedly a major reason for that as he assembled a squad full of young and exciting talent—the first in some time actually capable of slugging it out with rivals like Arsenal and Chelsea.
Time has passed since then, but there will likely always be a fondness at White Hart Lane for a man who made Tottenham Hotspur genuinely worth talking about again.
Here are five of the great moments of the Martin Jol era...
30 April 2005: Spurs Thrash Aston Villa 5-1 To Maintain Their UEFA Cup Hopes
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Jol's first scene at Tottenham had encompassed the good, the bad and the ugly. The latter two had come in particular in the form of the suicidal defending that cost Spurs in the aforementioned north London derby, and of course, a certain disallowed goal of Pedro Mendes' at Old Trafford.
On the whole though, the good outweighed its more negative cohorts, and this 5-1 thrashing of Aston Villa was arguably the best of the good.
Spurs turned it on to overwhelm Villa and keep their hopes of qualifying for Europe alive. Fredi Kanoute scored twice either side of a goal from Ledley King to give Spurs the best possible start.
Gareth Barry reduced the deficit to 3-1 with a penalty, and Spurs needed an excellent Paul Robinson to stop any more damage being done.
Andy Reid, enjoying probably the best game of his short Tottenham career, let fly from outside the box and saw his effort rise beyond the reach of Stefan Postma. It all but sealed the win, but for good measure, Stephen Kelly added a fifth with a stylish flick past the Villa keeper.
22 April 2006: Spurs and Arsenal Battle It out for a Champions League Place
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It was fitting that the last North London derby to take place at Highbury was the first in some time where something beyond pride and bragging rights was at stake for both Arsenal and Tottenham.
A fourth-place Premier League finish and a much-coveted Champions League spot were at stake with a win for either side putting them in pole position with two games left for each to play. The added caveat for Spurs was that even if they did win the race, Arsenal could steal the spoils from them if they beat Barcelona in the Champions League Final.
As we now know, both would fall short of their ultimate aims, but the 1-1 draw that took place on this sunny April afternoon was one of the most entertaining encounters between the rivals for years, with controversy surrounding Spurs' opening goal.
Tottenham had the better of the first half without scoring before Arsenal began to find their way into the game after the interval. Somewhat against the run of play but not undeserving of their whole performance, Spurs took the lead.
After Emmanuel Eboue and Gilberto ran into one another, Spurs took advantage of the mishap with Edgar Davids breaking down the left before centering it for Robbie Keane to tap-in. Spurs were in their right to make the most of Arsenal's own comical collision, but nonetheless, angry Gunners surrounded Davids, while on the touchline an irate Wenger fronted his Tottenham counterpart Jol.
It was to become one of the iconic derby images of the decade; Wenger pushing his head uncomfortably close to Jol who commendably found it in himself not to break the Frenchman in half. Unfortunately for such a petty act on the part of Wenger, he was to get the last laugh as substitute Thierry Henry salvaged a draw for his side.
5 November 2006: Spurs Secure a Long-Awaited League Win Against Chelsea
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That it was Tottenham's first league win over Chelsea since 2000 was big enough reason for celebration, that it also served as notice that this Spurs side in full-flow could contend with the Premier League's best was a sign of things to come.
Make no mistake, though Jol would be gone a year later, the bulk of the side that beat Chelsea this day were the players, who in the following through years, would record further big victories over the Blues and others.
Spurs fans would have been forgiven for thinking it was the same old story when Chelsea took the lead through a superb and rare goal from Claude Makelele, the Frenchman striking well from the edge of the box. But rather than capitulate as had been frequent in recent times, Tottenham showed their mettle.
Ten minutes later, Michael Dawson equalised with a powerfully-placed header, and Spurs were back in it. Early in the second half, they would put Chelsea well and truly on the ropes.
Venturing down the left wing with the ball at the tips of his toes, Robbie Keane offered the ball up to Khalid Boulahrouz, daring him to try to take it off him. The Dutch full-back took the bait and was swiftly mesmerised off balance as Keane shifted the ball past him and crossed for Aaron Lennon. The winger controlled it superbly, buying himself the necessary time to calmly stroke it into the back of the net.
The score would remain 2-1a John Terry sending off only adding to Chelsea's misery that afternoon.
12 April 2007: Spurs Lose to Sevilla on an Electric European Night at the Lane
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After losing the first leg out in Spain 2-1, Tottenham's return to European competition in 2006-07 was ended at the quarterfinal stage after a 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane, losing 4-3 on aggregate.
Sevilla scored twice in the opening seven minutes with ex-Spur Fredi Kanoute grabbing one. Spurs got back into things with goals from substitute Jermain Defoe and Aaron Lennon in the second half, but their heartbreak was compounded by Teemu Tainio's late sending off.
But the story of this fight-back was not one that took place just on the pitch, but one also in the stands of White Hart Lane—a true example of the power of the 12th man.
Two-nil down at halftime, a resigned but not hopeless Tottenham faithful began singing "MARTIN JOL'S BLUE AND WHITE ARMY." The extraordinary thing about it on this occasion was that it was not just a momentary burst but a sustained onslaught of noised that carried well into the second half as Spurs got themselves back into the game.
It was an incredible atmosphere—one typical of so many occasions during Jol's reign in charge at Spurs and representative of the passion he helped inspire in the supporters for their team.
1 October 2007: Spurs Fight Back To Salvage Their 125th Anniversary Party
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Being 4-1 down after 60 minutes is never fun, but when it is on the night designated to celebrate the 125th anniversary of your club (a special kit was designed), with so many past greats and fan favourites paraded on the pitch beforehand, it feels even worse.
This was something the Aston Villa fans took great delight in reminding their Tottenham counterparts on this night as they ironically sang "Happy Birthday to you."
Now, it will never be clear if this was the exact reason behind the Spurs comeback that ensued, but it does not seem unreasonable to assume this taunting was something of a catalyst.
Goals from Pascal Chimbonda and Robbie Keane (after Dimitar Berbatov's opener) reduced Tottenham's deficit to 4-3 when with 90 minutes played Spurs won a corner.
Villa failed to clear properly, and the ball dropped nicely for Younes Kaboul to smash in the equaliser and earn a euphoric 4-4 comeback. As the defender raced over to the bench to celebrate with teammates and coaches, the pandemonium in the stands at that moment was as if the winning goal had just been scored in the FA Cup final.
It was to be the last hurrah of Martin Jol's time at Tottenhama stay of execution before he was sacked weeks later. But it was one of many moments, listed here and otherwise, that were characteristic of a pretty great few years.